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November 21, 2017


C.J. Dennis

by N@ncy


Author: P. Butterss
Title: The Life and Works of C.J. Dennis
Published: 2014
Trivia: (SA) #AusReadingMonth @Brona’s Books
Trivia: Winner National Biography Award 2015
Trivia: #NonFicNov
Trivia: List Reading Challenges 2017


Who was this man?

  1. C.J. Dennis (1876-1938)   was an Australian poet known for his
  2. humorous poems and also his politically tinted verse about topical subjects.
  3. He is considered among Australia’s most famous poets. (…with H. Lawson and B. Paterson)


What are the main characteristics of his writing?

The essential ingredient was the reader’s emotional response.
His poetry was easy to understand and beneath the slangy twang
1. rolling rythm – rhyme
2. street slang
3. stage cockney
4. phonetic spellings


Best chapter:

  1. Best chapter 6:
  2. In this chapter we learn more about the poet’s,  subtle meanings …..very insightful.
  3. Other chapters are awash with names of Dennis’s
  4. literary circles ( Sunnyside, Melbourne).


  1. Dennis wrote about a ‘sentimental bloke’…but he wasn’t sentimental at all.
  2. Throughout his career he was  a hard-nosed business man.
  3. He does not want to advertise his change of political views
  4. ….it may annoy his readers/sales.
  5. The author  everything to make sure  his books were a ‘marketing success’.
  6. He asked the popular H. Lawson to write a foreward.
  7. He made his publisher agree to print his book BEFORE Christmas (sales?) and
  8. …publish a small pocket edition  of ‘The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke
  9. …so that families could send it to the troops fighting at the front WWI.
  10. The book would boost the soldier’s morale….and earnings for Dennis!


Timeline: 1920’s – 1930’s:

  1. Author started to drink heavily again
  2. suffered from periods of depression an asthma.
  3. C.J. Dennis  was the unofficial poet laureate of Australia!
  4. But slang an dialect were becoming unfashionable.
  5. light topical verse (politically tinted) that filled newspapers
  6. was in decline.



  1. I enjoyed this book….and it is a shame that  C.J. Dennis is practically
  2. …an unknown by a large reading public outside of Australia.
  3. His books are on Kindle for a mere  1 or 2 euro’s….
  4. I bought them all!


Major works:

  1. Major work:  The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke
  2. Dennis acknowledges class division
  3. and then goes on to minimize it in his  poems.
  4. “…how life and love can be splendid for
  5. …the common bloke as for the cultured (pg 113)
  6. Dennis used the archetypal Australian male values of the
  7. bushman…and channeled unruliness into hard work for his family.


  1. Major work:  The Moods of Ginger Mick
  2. Dennis brings the bush values into a city setting
  3. ‘Mick’ was also important helping a nation (Australia)
  4. grieve after losing so many soldiers in WWI.
  5. Dennis used the archetypal Australian male values of the
  6. bushman…and channeled a backstreet fighter (larrikin) into an Anzac soldier.


  1. Major work: Poem:  Comin’ Ome Frum Shearin’
  2. Conflict:
  3. Man’s domestic duty to provide for his family VS
  4. The delights of a wilder and freer masculine life
  5. Attraction of drinking VS destructiveness
  6. Major work: Poem: The Play
  7. Humorous parody recognizable to anyone with the minimun
  8. knowledge of Romeo & Juliet…
  9. …don’t forget Mick Curio !



6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 21 2017

    Have to admit had never heard of CJ Dennis till read your post. Some of it sounds intriguing so will look out for it – especially ‘Comin Ome Frum Shearin’ – there’s something about just the title makes me smile!!


    • Nov 21 2017

      C.J. Dennis was a very important writer in his time
      …and I feel the rest of the world outside of Australia have never heard of him!
      He used his wit, rhyme and satire to attack many political figures.
      C.J. Dennis was ‘twittering’ in poems….instead of on the internet!
      I read some of his comical poems….and his version of 2 young people (not educated in the finer arts) watching he play Romeo and Juiiet for the first time…it is hysterical!


  2. Nov 22 2017

    I wrote a personal post about CJ Dennis a few years –
    Rereading it reminds me that November has a number of sad memories for us now….although, the sad are mixed up with all the happy memories, so bittersweet is probably a better word to describe November.

    I’m glad you found a lot to enjoy with CJ, I thought he might only work for Aussies.


    • Nov 23 2017

      Thanks so much for the link!
      November brings back my memories of family and Thanksgiving Day ( today!) feasts.
      We didn’t realize we were making memoires back then….we were just having fun.
      Keep having fun…. even in November.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nov 23 2017

        ‘We didn’t realize we were making memoires back then….we were just having fun.’
        I love this so much – you’re a gem. Happy Thanksgiving however you celebrate it now – Heineken & cheese?


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  1. #AusReadingMonth Wrap Up | NancyElin

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